Whether it’s from high school or college, a graduation is a major life achievement that deserves to be celebrated in style. Honor your graduate with a personalized graduation gift and plan a graduation party that incorporates memories of school days past, aspirations for the future and acknowledgement of all the hard work leading up to the occasion. By incorporating special themed treats, party favors, decorations and traditions into the party, you make it both meaningful for the graduate and fun for all the guests.

Graduation party treats and gifts

Welcome Guests With a Sign-In Table

At the entrance to the party, set up a welcome table with a photograph of the graduate in a personalized autograph frame as its centerpiece. Remove the glass from the frame and place a jar of colorful pens next to it, inviting guests to sign the mat and offer their congratulations and well wishes to the graduate. Make the table more festive by taping helium balloons on strings around the perimeter. Attach tissue paper tassels to the string to fit the graduation theme. Other decorations for the table could include additional framed photos of the graduate or graduates during school events and dressed up in school colors.

graduation party sign

Make Mortarboard Treats

Create chocolate treats resembling mortarboards using peanut butter cups, squares of chocolate and pieces of thin licorice. Turn the peanut butter cups upside down to resemble the hat part of the mortarboard and “glue” a square of chocolate to the top using a little peanut butter or frosting. A short strand of licorice tops the treat as a tassel. Make plenty of these delicious treats and set them out on a platter for guests to enjoy.

mortar board peanut butter cup treats

Fill a Jar With Wrapped Treats

Instead of setting chocolates out on a platter, make wrapped versions of the mortarboard treats that you can set out in a personalized graduation treat jar.

mason jar with wrapped chocolate treats

Create Graduating Year 3-D Decorations

To give your party tables that extra special touch, decorate three-dimensional cardboard numbers to represent the graduating year. You have lots of choices on this project. Use larger or smaller numbers and make just one or several sets to display on the welcome table, individual tables or throughout the party area. Cover the numbers with glue and glitter, paint them in school colors or decoupage them with graduation-themed scrapbooking paper or photocopied pages from a yearbook. Or decorate letters representing school initials or to spell out “Class of” alongside the year.

graduation year numbers with string lights

Transform three-dimensional graduating year numbers into marquee lights to add a bright, illuminating touch to your party decor. The effect is especially impressive when the sun has set or when the party gets going and you dim the lights. The project calls for a string of white lights and just a few extra steps. Remove the backs from the hollow cardboard numbers using a sharp craft knife, then punch holes at regular intervals on the fronts of the numbers. Size the holes to snugly fit the light bulbs. Decorate the numbers before poking the bulbs through the holes and plugging in the lights.

graduation year numbers and balloons

Serve a “Better Than the Cafeteria” School Lunch

Replicate the look — but not necessarily the culinary style — of a school cafeteria as a whimsical way to serve your guests party foods. Arrange large, catering-style silver foil trays of food on a long table. At one end stand a chalk board menu, a stack of plastic cafeteria trays, a napkin dispenser and jars of silverware. Set out tubs filled with sachets of condiments, which you can find at restaurant supply stores, as well as canned and bottled drinks on ice in a personalized galvanized tub. Serve school lunch-inspired favorites such as hot dogs, mini pizzas and burgers — sliders make especially good party food.

steel beverage tub with drinks and cups

Party Favor Scrolls

Choose long, cylindrical party favors, such as rolls of candy or gourmet chocolate-covered pretzel sticks, and roll them up in black construction paper to resemble graduation scrolls. Tie the scrolls with a ribbon or string and write guests’ names or an appropriate phrase, such as “Congratulations,” or “Class of 2015,” on them in cursive letters with a metallic pen. Instead of treats, you could wrap tubes of bubbles or glow sticks in the same way and hand them out for guests to play with during the party. Display the scrolls in special graduation mugs on the welcome table or individual tables.

graduation year mugs with names

Are you planning a graduation party for the scholar in your life? Share your best party planning tips in the comments.